Posted by: Katrina Stewart

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In the driving seat…

It’s very heartening to look back on the last 12 months to see how much we have achieved as a relatively new proposition for Oakleaf. We have enjoyed a very successful year which has been both exciting and rewarding for us, working on something we both empathise with and feel very passionately about, and we are confident we have supported a large group of talented HR professionals who want to work in a more flexible way. In the last year, we have placed candidates in a broad range of roles, working at different levels across all industry sectors and locations nationally.

2017/2018 was defined by the emergence of many more recruitment agencies, portals, and platforms focusing on the flexible, agile space which far from being a threat or a negative for us has been very positive for our work in this space. It has highlighted the focus that the recruitment market has placed on recruiting people in a different way. We are encouraged on a daily basis that social media pours out numerous articles, items and news flow around the increase and prevalence of better flexible working opportunities for all, shining a light on the HR profession. We see our work as having something of a social purpose also, each week we are speaking to HR professionals who might have had a significant career break for numerous reasons and need to regain their “mojo” and confidence to believe they can return. Some of our most heartening placements in the last year have included senior HR appointments for people who have been out of the market for a decade wanting, needing or choosing to work less than a 5-day week.

As we move through the next few months with Gender Pay Gap reporting front and centre in everyone’s thoughts, the dawn of Brexit realisation on the 2019 horizon - we can be sure that the dial has absolutely shifted in the direction of certain flexibility around working arrangements and that those options are now available for all of us whatever age, gender, need and requirement.

Highlights and successes

  • We have secured our position as the London market leaders for HR professionals who seek flexible work and the “go to” destination in the industry for candidates and clients alike
  • Placing 3 senior HR professionals in 3 and 4-day roles at one of the country’s most well-known high street retailers was a key highlight of the last year
  • Working on numerous successful job share “marriages” across generalist, reward and ER specialisms
  • The sector dominance/forte we appear to be developing is in Retail, Legal and Financial Services – three industries who appear to be more advanced in their amenability to flexible working
  • We have placed candidates in stimulating, genuinely flexible jobs from Payroll Administrators to Head of People (salary ranges £25k - £130k FTE) across all industry sectors where the market cap of the businesses we have supported ranges from £250,000 to £4.5bn
  • Our objective has always been to provide better representation to those seeking greater flexible working opportunities in the HR candidate market – we have achieved this goal and are delighted about this

Trends and themes

Flexible HR roles in Commerce and Industry have dominated the platform we work on/in. This is a complete shift from the previous 12 months to March 2017 where the dominance definitely came from Financial and Professional Services. Looking at how this shift has come about, we believe part of this change is because clients have become more open to where candidate experience comes from. We have seen less of the desired requirement for candidates to have sector experience, which creates a much more diverse and interesting talent pool for us to present to clients. Another trend is the split between the growing number of contract/interim roles vs perm assignments. It doesn’t surprise us that the interim market from a client perspective is more receptive to flexible working in HR than its permanent counterpart. If a client has a project to be completed it's quite conceivable that within the defined time parameters the client won't have a particular preference for the number of days the work must be done in. Likewise, most of the maternity cover contracts we have worked on are roles we have filled on a flexible basis as the maternity leave is already working flexibly and so the need to replace them echoes that same format of working pattern. This year has seen a marked increase in the number of Reward roles at a level over £80k FTE.  Another area where we have been very busy has been supporting the start-up/tech/high growth SME businesses with senior generalist hires. In the first 3 months of 2018, we have worked on 6 roles of this profile in the £75k FTE+ salary range.

Overall, it has been an incredibly successful 12 months for us, we have supported more client businesses in seeking flexible HR talent than anyone else in the market and provided job opportunities and ideas to hundreds of talented candidates also.

Next stop – global domination?


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